The UK government is set to abolish the Value Added Tax (VAT) on period pants in the Autumn Statement, the BBC has reported. The change is due to come into effect in January 2022 and will make the absorbent, reusable and washable underwear “zero-rated” and therefore exempt from VAT. Other period products such as pads and tampons have been VAT-exempt since 2021.
Campaigners have welcomed the abolition of the so-called “period pants tax” saying that it will make the environmentally-friendly product more affordable. In a letter to the treasury in August, around 50 signatories – including Marks & Spencer and the Wuka brand – called for the tax to be scrapped, stating that the freedom to opt for such eco-friendly options should be available to all.
Government officials have estimated that the abolition will lead to a saving of 55p per year for the average UK household, roughly the same price as a pint of milk. However, campaigners note that the true cost of a single-use products such as sanitary pads or tampons are higher in the long-term if calculated over a person’s life.
Period pants and similar products have become increasingly popular with customers looking for functional and sustainable options. A range of high street retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Primark and Next now sell such pants, which are lined with highly absorbent materials and can be washed and used multiple times. Campaigners praise the reduction of VAT but say that more still needs to be done to promote eco-friendly choices, including making sustainable products more accessible and affordable
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